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2015 National Black Members' Conference
17 September 2014

Conferences is concerned to hear that homosexuality is criminalised in 76 countries in the world, including 40 African countries, and society persecutes and discriminates against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT) people in even more countries.

In July 2011 it was reported that the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma had spoken out against discrimination towards people who were gay or lesbian while on a visit to Australia, arguing that “vilification and targeting on grounds of sexual orientation are at odds with the values of the Commonwealth”. Despite this statement, homosexuality remains criminalised in 49 out of 53 commonwealth countries. This means that persecution of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Asylum seekers is not only a LGBT issue but is a Black issue.

Conference notes that the North West Regional LGBT Group has heard from a Nigerian lesbian human rights activist, Aderonke, who now lives in their region. Aderonke has spoken of the appalling conditions she experienced during her detention in Yarl’s Wood and the inhumane things that she had to go through in order to prove to the authorities that she is a lesbian and therefore at risk (her life will be in danger) if (she was) returned to Nigeria.

Conference further notes that the UNISON-sponsored report by the United Kingdom Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) “Missing the Mark; Decision Making on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Asylum Claims? published in September 2013, highlights that 98–99 per cent of LGBTI asylum seekers are initially rejected; yet 30 per cent are approved on appeal.

The report revealed:

a)Inappropriate and sexually explicit questioning by case workers;

b)Disbelieving a person is lesbian or gay due to the decision maker’s misconceptions about sexual identity;

c)Falsely assuming that internal relocation is a valid option and that it is possible to live as a lesbian or gay man in countries where homophobia is prevalent “as long as someone is not ostentatious about it”;

d)Stereotyped assumptions about female sexuality and about lesbian and gay relationships;

e)Use of out dated Country of Origin Information or ill-informed sources such as the Spartacus Guide.

f)The continuing invisibility of lesbian asylum seekers and failure to recognise the intersectional factors based on both gender and sexual orientation which affect their lives and their claims.

Conference welcomes the review in the area of sexual orientation and gender identity asylum claims announced by the Government on 28 March 2014. However, Conference is concerned that Black asylum seekers, having escaped persecution in their own country are doubly disadvantaged when faced by a hostile UK immigration system.

Conference calls upon the National Black Members’ Committee to:

1)Publicise and promote the recommendations of the Making the Mark Report and encourage regional LGBT and Black members groups to do the same;

2)Work with Labour Link, BAME Labour and LGBT Labour to raise the relevant recommendations with Labour; and;

3)Encourage joint work between regional and branch LGBT and Black members groups to support, publicise and promote the work of UKLGIG;

4)Consider hosting a fringe meeting at the 2016 National Black Members Conference highlighting the experiences of LGBT asylum seekers in the UK.